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Northern Illinois Agriculture

University of Illinois Extension

How about those beans?

Posted by Russel Higgins - Soybeans

One of the pleasant surprises for some farmers this year in areas of northern Illinois has been soybean yields. Reported field averages have ranged from the 50's up to 80 bushel an acre. Certainly not what we expected when we looked at the soybean crop in early August after a very hot and dry July. Some may remember earlier this year that I voiced my concern over the number of pods per plant. This summer soybean development was well ahead of schedule, 82% of the Illinois soybean crop was setting pods on August 5. A concern was the soybean crop would hasten to maturity and likely not benefit from late season rains. Using the rule of thumb of ¾ of a bushel of yield per seed per plant we had estimated yields in the low 40s.

With soybean harvest all but done, what have we learned from 2012?

  1. First, it is a brave or naïve, man or woman who willingly estimates soybean yields.
  2. The soybean crop was much more resilient to early and mid-season stresses than many agronomists predicted.
  3. Soybean disease may have a larger impact on yield than previously thought. The northern Illinois soybean crop was virtually disease free due to the hot and dry environmental conditions.
  4. Current Soybean genetics appear to be superior, even under stressful conditions to previous generations of soybean.

Like many producers we are looking at ways to optimize soybean yield consistently in our trials, and like many producers, we are willing to test a number of products and combinations to determine what does and doesn't work.

In this year's High yield soybean study we compared

  • Seed treatments
  • Fungicides and insecticides
  • Biological additives
  • Foliar fertilizers (micro with N, P, K, S, Mn, and B prior to R1)
  • Late season nitrogen
  • Cobra applications
  • Combinations of products
The results have yet to be statistically analyzed, but our raw harvest data has yields ranging from 50 to 90+ bushels per acre. I'll look forward to future visits to share our finalized data, and to learn what worked, and what didn't on your farms!

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